Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • Continuing to Advance our Work in Combating Domestic Violence and Other Crimes

    Through the bi-partisan support and passage of the Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, Congress has expressed its strong support of law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting domestic violence and other crimes.  These laws also provide critical support to immigrant victims in stepping forward to report crimes. This week, we saw Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies collaborate with non-governmental organizations to ensure these laws are carried out effectively.

  • Text4baby Shows Promising Results for Moms

    Ed note: This blog was cross-posted from the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

    Text4baby, a free health education text messaging service for pregnant women and new moms, is reaching its primary target audience of medically underserved women and achieving a number of its health education goals, according to a preliminary assessment  presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting this week. The program, made possible through a broad, public-private partnership, is the first free mobile health information service in the United States and is an important example of leveraging widely used technology—in this case, cell phones—in  new ways to improve the lives of Americans. Pregnant and new moms who sign up for text4baby (by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411) receive three text messages per week containing  health tips and resources. 

    The study by the National Latino Research Center at California State University and the University of California, San Diego,  showed “very high satisfaction with the service, increase in users’ health knowledge, improved interaction with healthcare providers, improved adherence to appointments and immunizations, and increased access to health resources.” The study consisted of interviews with 38 text4baby users and a survey of 122 text4baby users, all in San Diego County. Participants rated text4baby as an 8.5 out of 10 overall, and indicated that:

    • 81% have an annual household income under $40,000
    • 65% are either uninsured or enrolled in California’s Medicaid program
    • 63% said the service helped them remember an appointment or immunization that they or their child needed
    • 75% said they learned a medical warning sign they didn’t know previously
    • 71% talked to their doctor about a topic they read on a text4baby message
    • 39% called a service or phone number they received from a text4baby message (this rose to 53% among individuals without health insurance)

  • Empowering Women and Girls at the North Carolina Governor’s Conference for Women

    Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of addressing a room full of 1,500 outstanding women – as well as a few good men – at the annual North Carolina Governor’s Conference for Women. It was an honor to join North Carolina’s governor, Bev Perdue, along with Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, elected officials, and women from across the state.

    I was especially proud to be representing President Obama as the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. I had the chance to share some of the lessons I’ve learned during my own career, and to describe the ways the Obama Administration is working to create an environment where women and girls can reach their full potential.

    In recent decades, women have caught up to men in a variety of areas, but as the White House’s “Women in America” report showed, disparities remain. Women continue to underperform in science, technology, engineering, and math. Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in both politics, and the private sector as well. And women still earn just 77 percent of what men earn.

    President Obama is committed to closing these gaps. He knows that we cannot overcome our economic challenges without the contributions of women and girls.

    That’s why President Obama’s education plan is designed to increase the number of women who study science, technology, engineering, and math, the so-called “STEM” skills that will prepare them for the jobs of the future. It’s why President has made workplace flexibility a key element of his labor agenda, and has surrounded himself with a group of strong women in the White House, and throughout his administration. It’s also why the very first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which strengthens a woman’s right to sue her employer for equal pay.

    I ended my remarks by discussing this year’s Google Science Fair. The Google Science Fair was, in many ways, a metaphor for the global competition that will define the 21st century. Over 10,000 young people submitted projects, from 90 different countries. President Obama was thrilled to hear that this year’s winners were three teenage girls from America, and he invited them to the White House so he could personally congratulate them on their achievement.

    As President Obama said, “Even at a time of great uncertainty, their stories remind us that there are still discoveries waiting to be made and unlimited potential waiting to be tapped.” I know that the women leaders I met at the North Carolina Governor’s Conference for Women will help make those discoveries, and help women and girls reach their full potential.

    Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

  • Announcing the Winners of the Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge

    Ed note: This blog was cross-posted from the 1 is 2 Many initiative.

    Last July, I wrote about a new and innovative effort to help address sexual assault and dating violence. While women of any age can be targets of this kind of abuse, young women aged 16-24, experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and 1 in 5 will be a victim of sexual assault during college. Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances. Moreover, sixty percent of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them.

    Working with the Office of the Vice President and the White House Office of Science and Technology, we launched the Apps Against Abuse technology challenge – calling on software innovators to harness the power of mobile technology to help prevent dating violence and abuse by keeping young adults connected to trusted friends and providing easy access to important resources for help including local police and abuse hotlines.

    Today, we are pleased to announce the winners of the challenge: “Circle of 6” and “On Watch.” Prototypes of the two winning applications were selected from a pool of over 30 entries submitted to

    Vice President Biden applauded the winning applications earlier today during a conference call with hundreds of college and university officials to discuss ongoing efforts to help better prevent and respond to sexual assault and violence on campuses across the country. He encouraged the college and university leaders to make students on their campuses aware of the applications when they become available for download in 2012.

    The winning applications are described below. They will be available for free public download beginning in early 2012. We will highlight these applications on, as soon as they become available and will work with other federal agencies to help spread the word about their availability.

  • What a Jobs Plan Looks Like

    Ed note: This blog was cross-posted from the White House blog.

    As we continue to climb out of the worst recession since the Great Depression and Americans continue to struggle, it is clear that the need for continued action is urgent. There are things that Washington can do right now to create jobs and grow the economy, and the President has put together the American Jobs Act to do exactly that. 

    Unfortunately, even as the President is doing all he can through his executive powers in the "We Can't Wait" campaign, the American Jobs Act is being blocked by Republicans in the Senate who have voted in unison against these common sense, broadly supported proposals, and Republicans in the House refuse to even give the bill a vote.  Senate Republicans have offered their own alternative as an excuse to oppose the President's plan, but a look at them side by side leads to only one conclusion: one is truly a jobs plan, and one is not.

  • Council on Women and Girls Weekly Highlights

    Welcome to the Council on Women and Girls Weekly Highlights. If you have friends or family who would like to support the efforts of the Council on Women and Girls, please visit our website and share this link with others on Facebook and Twitter.

    It’s been a busy week here at the White House – check out West Wing Week to get updated on what's happening in the President's world. Staying consistent with the President’s mantra for the week, we can’t wait to ensure a better future for America’s Women and Girls. We can’t wait for congress to act – the stakes are too high, the problems too serious. So we will continue to work with congress to pass the American Jobs Act, but the President will also continue to take executive actions that fight for the middle class because the American people simply can’t wait.

    That’s why this past week, President Obama announced new efforts to make college more affordable by helping millions of borrowers better manage their federal student loan debt. America cannot lead in the 21st century without the best-educated, most competitive workforcein the world. Nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, which is why we must supply our workforce with the skills they need to compete.

    Over the past several days, the administration announced measures to help struggling homeowners and to prevent prescription drug shortages. On October 24th, the President traveled to Las Vegas to highlight a set of steps announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency to make it easier for some homeowners to refinance their mortgages. And yesterday, October 31st, the President signed an Executive Order that will lead to earlier FDA notification of any impending shortages for certain prescription drugs. Early notification can help prevent a shortage from becoming a crisis by allowing hospitals, doctors and manufacturers to take action to ensure medications remain available.